Sunday, December 1, 2013

Karna - Part 8 of 8

Karna's story would be incomplete without mentioning Shalya. Shalya, the king of Madra and the brother of Madri, was the maternal uncle of Nakula and Sahadeva, the Pandava twins.
After Krishna's mission to bring peace between Pandavas and the Kauravas failed, the two sides called in all their supporters for fighting the war. The king of Madra collected his army and was on the way to join his army on the side of the Pandavas. However destiny had other plans....
Duryodhana called his men with specific instructions. 'Intercept Shalya before he reaches his destination. Serve him lavishly but do not tell him who is his host!'
Duryodhana's men were puzzled but they did not ask any questions.
And so Shalya never reached the destination. He saw beautiful tents put up on the way. He stopped his group and all of them enjoyed the lavish hospitality.....
Later he called the servant. 'Call your master! I am extraordinarily pleased with him! I will pledge my army to him right now!'
Duryodhana who was waiting for this opportunity smiled as he stood before Shalya.
Shalya was shocked out of his wits. 'You....It was you, who did all this!'
Duryodhana smiled quietly. 'My servant tells me that you wanted to pledge your army to me!'
I did not know that you were the host...Shalya wanted to yell but he kept quiet. He had as good given his word to Duryodhana to fight for him. Shalya took a deep breath. 'My word is my honour! I will fight the war for you! But Duryodhana....' Shalya took another breath to control himself. 'I need to meet the Pandavas and tell them about this...I promise I would be back!'
Duryodhana smiled. 'Please...I know you are are a honourable man! Please go and tell your nephews and come back....'
An unhappy Shalya went to the Pandavas. There he told Yudhishtara everything. Everyone was dismayed. Shalya was a very good archer and an incredibly effective mace wielder though he was not a very heavy man. And the man never lost him calm. Though it was not advertised much, Shalya was a charioteer par excellence.
Yudhishtara decided that what was done was done, now it was time for damage control. He took Shalya aside. 'I know that you have given your word and that you will fight against us....However there is something I want you to do....'
Shalya was puzzled in the whispering voice of Yudhishtara but did not say anything. 'You are an excellent charioteer! I am sure that Duryodhana would use it!'
Shalya frowned not understanding.
'Arjuna's charioteer is none other than Krishna himself and in the war, there will be a time when there will be a battle between Karna and Arjuna! And the outcome of the entire war will depend on that battle!' Yudhishtara declared as he trembled. Shalya frowned but said nothing. Yudhishtara continued. 'I am not concerned about anyone in the Kaurava army, other than Karna!' Yudhishtara declared for the first time a fear which had been gnawing him for the past thirteen years. Ever since Yudhishtara had seen Karna, Yudhishtara could not get it outside his head that Karna was as good a warrior as Arjuna....Probably even better.....
Shalya for the first time realized that Yudhishtara was genuinely scared of Karna. 'What do you want me to do?' Shalya asked.
Yudhishtara took a deep breath. 'I know that what I am asking you an honourable thing, but I think this must be done if Arjuna's life is to saved!'
'What do you want me to do?' Shalya repeated getting more and more confused.
'I am sure that for fighting Krishna and Arjuna, Karna will at some time during the war ask you to be his charioteer. When that happens, I want you to dishearten Karna!' (In those days, the position of being a warrior's charioteer was given only to persons who were extremely trustworthy because more often than not, the life of the warrior depended as much on his own fighting skills and on the driving skills of his charioteer. The charioteer not only protected the life of the warrior, the warrior also discussed the means of attack and defence with the charioteer)
'WHAT?' Shalya demanded.
'When you act as Karna's charioteer I want you to talk to man and discourage him and praise Arjuna! That way, Karna would never fight his best and there is probably a chance that Arjuna's life would be saved!'
Shalya looked at Yudhishtara grimly and did not speak for a long time. Yudhishtara watched Shalya worriedly who finally looked at him and smiled. 'Probably it is just as well that Duryodhana wants me to fight for him! I will help you and I will do exactly what you want me to do! By the time I get through with Karna, he would be in no position to even stand near Arjuna, let alone fight him!'

Because of Bhishma's condition, Karna did not participate in the first ten days of the Mahabharatha war. As per his word, Bhishma did not kill the five Pandavas, but he caused mass havoc among the Pandava army. However the Pandavas with the help of Shikhandi finally brought Bhishma down on the tenth day of the war.
Watching Bhishma lying in the bed of arrows, his face contorted with pain, at first the Kauravas did not know what to do....But one thought which entered almost everyone's mind was Karna....Now Karna was going to participate in the war....The respect which everyone had for Bhishma automatically transferred to the King of Anga.
Karna watched the fallen Bhishma his thoughts in disarray...As long as you are around, I WILL NOT FIGHT! Karna remembered that he had yelled at Bhishma. But if you manage to bring down the Pandavas, I will....I will retire to the forests and never come back....But if I ever fight this war, I will defeat every single person from the opposite side...Every single person whom you considered to be greater warrior than me! Karna remembered his words well and now looking at the Bhishma he knew that his time to make good his promise had come....
Karna looked down at the fallen hero and touched Bhishma's feet as a tear trickled down his eyes. The fallen monarch woke up suddenly and Karna winced as he saw the pain in Bhishma's eyes. 'I am sorry, I have disturbed you! I am Radha's....'
'No you are not!' Karna was shocked with the soft words coming from the wizened features. 'You are not Radha's son, Karna!' Karna looked shocked as he looked at Bhishma like as if he was looking at him for the first time in his life. 'Sage Narada and Veda Vyasa, both have told me who you are! Who you really are!' Bhishma took a deep breath to control the pain. 'You are Kunti and Surya Deva's son!' Bhishma said. The fallen monarch called Karna forward and tightly hugged the man. Karna was shocked beyond words. Bhishma knew about him....
Bhishma shook his head sadly. 'That was the reason I spoke harshly to you! I did not want you to talk ill of your own brothers!That was the reason I did not want you to fight the war! I wanted to make sure you never fought with your own brothers!' Bhishma looked sad and defeated as he studied the fine man sobbing, standing before him. 'But fate....destiny is more powerful than either of us!'
Karna took a deep breath as he pulled himself together. 'I will not go against Duryodhana. He is my friend and I will fight for him! I will try to kill the Pandavas for him!'
Bhishma smiled sadly. Probably he already knew Karna's answer. 'Then go and fight, my son! Fight to the best of your capabilities and fight without any anger or vindictiveness! Fight because it is your Dharma to fight for Duryodhana!'
For the first time in his life Karna fell at Bhishma's feet with complete love and devotion...
Karna went back to the camp and talked to the Kaurava brothers who were badly shaken up by the death of the Bhishma. Karna spoke to the army of the Kauravas and boosted their morale by his heart rendering speech. The Kaurava army was back and ready to fight again....
Duryodhana saw his army and smiled at Karna. 'My friend! Now I am sure we are going to win the war! Please....come and lead us and let us show the Pandavas what we can really do!'
Karna shook his head. 'After Bhisma, the oldest person in the Kaurava army is Dronacharya! I am sure he is the one who has to lead your army! We will all follow him!' Karna displayed his shrewdness and his genuine willingness to fight to win the war for Duryodhana by the statement. If Karna himself had become the general of the army, it was a certainty that the other kings and princes who joined the war to fight for Duryodhana would have grumbled because he was their same age and there was also the touchy issue of him being the son of a charioteer. However nobody would mind following the orders of Dronacharya who was after all the teacher of the entire royal house of Hastinapur.
And so Drona led the Kaurava forces to battle.
During the first two days that Drona led the army, the main focus of the Kauravas was to imprison Yudhishtara. Duryodhana believed that if Yudhishtara was imprisoned and bought before them, Yudhishtara would concede defeat and give up the rights to his kingdom. However both the times Drona was thwarted by Arjuna. After the attempt failed for the second time, Duryodhana was so angry that he goaded his teacher very badly. Dronacharya was very badly rattled and decided that the next day he would either imprison Yudhishtara or kill a Maharatha from the Pandava army. (Based on their fighting prowess, warriors were classified as either Ratha or Maharatha)
And so the next day the Kauravas set up the Chakravyugha. The Samshaptakas led Arjuna away from Yudhishtara. The problem was that the only persons in the Pandava army who could breach a Chakravyugha were Arjuna and Krishna. With them gone, Yudhishtara could not fight against the Kauravas.
That was when Abhimanyu came up to his uncle. (Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, Krishna's sister.) 'I know how to break into the Chakravyugha,but the problem is, I do not know how to come out of it!'
Bheema smiled. 'Get us the opening! We will follow you ,son!'
Abhimanyu made the opening and the other Pandavas followed him or atleast tried following. (During the exile of the Pandavas, Jayadratha once tried to kidnap Draupadi. The Pandavas caught Jayadratha and humiliated him. In anger Jayadratha performed penance toward Lord Shiva and obtained a boon that he could single handedly stop the other four Pandavas, if Arjuna was not with them)
Jayadratha used his boon on this occasion and none of the other Pandavas could follow Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu went inside the Chakravyugha all alone. However that did not deter Abhimanyu at all. He single-handedly laid waste to almost half the Kaurava army as he plodded through the Chakravyugha.
'As long as he has a bow and arrow, we can do nothing to him!' Drona looked horrified at the destruction one sixteen year old was causing to the Kaurava army.
'….And he cannot be bested in a single combat by anybody...' Dusshasana said as his hands were bleeding after just finishing a fight with Abhimanyu.
'DO SOMETHING!' Duryodhana shouted, almost delirious with pain. 'THAT BOY....' Duryodhana spat angrily. 'He just spared my life because he wanted his uncle Bheema to keep up his vow of killing all the hundred Kaurava brothers....'
And so the Kauravas decided that Abhimanyu could not be attacked alone. Karna went towards the boy and he broke Abhimanyu's bow. At the same time Kripacharya killed Abhimanyu's charioteer and all his horses.
Abhimanyu pulled out his sword and started attacking the Kauravas around him. With great difficulty Drona broke the hilt of Abhimanyu's sword.
Abhimanyu was bleeding badly but undeterred he continued fighting. The Kauravas warriors watched horrified as Abhimanyu pulled out the wheel from one of the thousand chariots he had destroyed and started hitting the warriors near him. All the Kauravas surrounded him and together attacked the young Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu fought and finally unable to fight all the warriors collapsed and fell dead on the field.....
For a second the entire field was calm and suddenly the entire Kaurava army broke out into loud cheers. The great warriors of the Kaurava army danced around the body of the young Abhimanyu.....
The next day was probably the most gory day in the war. Arjuna vowed to kill Jayadratha the very next day or decided that he would forfeit his life if he failed. The Kauravas realizing that if Arjuna failed it would as well mean the end of the war and protected Jayadratha to the best of their ability.
Despite his clinical decimation of the Kaurava army, Arjuna all but failed but thanks to Krishna who effectively exploited the fact that the day was an eclipse, Arjuna was able to fulfill his vow...
Duryodhana was unable to believe that despite the best protection, Jayadratha still lay dead.
That day was the first day when the war did not end with sunset. Incensed at his failure to protect Jayadratha, Duryodhana let the war continue even after sunset. The Pandavas used Gadothgaja in reply to the Kauravas for the evening war. While Arjuna was fighting with Drona, Karna massacred the Pandava army. Arjuna then decided to stop his battle with Drona and go to face Karna. However the Dark Lord stopped him. Krishna turned to Gadothgaja. Gadothgaja was the son of Bheema and Hidimba and was a Rakshasa. 'Only two people can kill Karna. One of them is Arjuna and the other is you! I want you to face Karna, because it is night now!'
Gadothgaja looked proudly at Krishna as he nodded his head. As a Rakshasa his powers were heightened after sunset. And Gadothgaja wrecked havoc on the Kaurava army. It went so bad that Duryodhana for a second actually feared that the son of Bheema was going to win the war for the Pandavas on that day.
He went to his trusted friend. 'KARNA! Do something! Please....just....just do something....If we do not stop Gadothgaja...' Duryodhana gasped unable to finish the sentence.
Karna looked worriedly because he knew exactly how to stop Gadothgaja. He mumbled something when Duryodhana yelled at him. 'If you know what to do, just do it!'
'I have the Shakti with me! It would kill Gadothgaja....'
'THEN USE IT!' Duryodhana screamed.
'I was saving it for using it on Arjuna....' Karna mumbled. 'I can use it only once....'
'ARJUNA! YOU THINK ARJUNA IS IMPORTANT NOW!' Duryodhana shouted again. 'I WILL MAKE THIS CLEAR TO YOU...IF WE DO NOT DO ANYTHING NOW, THERE WILL BE NO TOMORROW FOR THE WAR...USE THE SHAKTI!' Duryodhana shouted as he stared at Gadothgaja who had now changed his size to that of a mountain.
Having no choice in the matter, Karna used the Shakti. The weapon which Indra had granted Karna in return of his armour and earrings. The weapon flew straight to Gadothgaja's chest and after fatally wounding the warrior, flew back to Indra.
'FALL ON THE KAURAVA ARMY!' Bheema screamed, his eyes in tears as his brothers watched in utter horror as Gadothgaja fell down
With tears stricken eyes Bheema rushed forward but he could not miss the sad smile on Krishna's face. 'Why are you smiling, Krishna?' Arjuna demanded hugging Gadothgaja. 'My son is dead and you are smiling...Why...'
'Bheema's son has done more than just fight the war! He has practically won the war for you!' Krishna said quietly. 'The only person in the Kaurava army who has the capacity to win the war was Karna and he could do it if he used his Shakti on Arjuna!' Krishna took in a deep breath as he continued. 'And today Karna has used the weapon and he cannot use it again.....Gadothgaja has just won the war for you!' Krishna repeated looking proudly at the dead warrior. 'Now my friend, you are ready to go and fight Karna!'

The next day was the day Dronacharya was killed in the battlefield and this time there was no question, Karna was automatically placed as the commander-in-chief of the army. Duryodhana looked at Karna with his eyes shining. 'Friend! Bhishma protected the Pandavas because he was their grandfather and Dronacharya also favoured are going to win this war for me!'
Karna looked at the love-filled eyes of Duryodhana and slowly nodded his head. 'Yes! I will win the war for you!'
Karna deployed his men and the Pandavas had a counter-strategy ready for them. However today was the day when Nakula picked Karna as his opponent. Nakula fought brilliantly but he was nowhere in the same class as Karna. Nakula fought as fast as he could but before he could even let loose his arrow Karna broke his bow. Nakula tried picking up his shaft but Karna broke that too. As an offensive,Karna killed Nakula's charioteer. Nakula stared wide eyed as Karna took the arrow and aimed it straight at his chest. Astonishingly Nakula saw Karna lower his arrow and give him a queer smile. 'You are just not worthy of fighting me! Go and hide behind your elder brother Arjuna and Krishna!'
Nakula was embarrassed and tried to raise his weapon but Karna just moved away from there, as if he was no longer worthy of his attention....
However on that day Arjuna massacred the Kaurava army and it went so bad that the Kaurava soldiers actually ran away on seeing Arjuna's chariot even at a distance. So that night the Kauravas had a meeting.
'Arjuna and me are equal in all aspects and I can easily take him....The problem is Krishna! He is such a brilliant charioteer that more than half of Arjuna's work is done by Krishna just driving the chariot....'
Duryodhana looked surprised. 'What do you want me to do about it?'
Karna looked straight at Duryodhana with a faint smile on his lips. 'I want as good a charioteer as Arjuna!' Both of them turned almost at the same time towards Shalya, the king of Madra.
Shalya looked angrily at the two of them. 'There is no way I am going to be the charioteer to him....He is not even a warrior!'
Duryodhana looked straight at Shalya. 'Listen to me king! The problem right now is Arjuna! He is destroying the Kaurava army not because he is a better warrior but because he has a better charioteer. Karna can kill Arjuna, if....if he has someone as good as Krishna....And the only person who satisfies that condition is you!'
Shalya looked quiet for a few seconds his eyes lighting up with pride. Finally taking a deep breath Shalya nodded his head. 'I will be your charioteer! But.....'
Both Duryodhana and Karna looked apprehensively as Shalya gave them a strange smile. 'I should be able to speak my mind to Karna! I will tell him exactly what I think, whether he gets hurt or not....'
Karna looked at Shalya for a long time and finally nodded his head. Then he smiled beautifully. 'Then tomorrow I am going to kill Pandavas!'
Shalya was irked by the over-confident smile on Karna's face and smirked. 'You think you can single handedly destroy the Pandavas?' Shalya shook his head with a mocking smile on his face.
And so the war started for the next day. Karna turned to his soldiers. 'Any person who points out where Arjuna is will be rewarded!'
Shalya who was minding the horses rolled his eyes. 'I am your charioteer! Of course, I can take you to Arjuna....But seriously you think you can bring down Arjuna.....A rabbit can never bring down an elephant!'
Karna looked angrily at Shalya. 'You have no idea of who I am! I can single handedly bring down all the Pandavas! So please do not tell me what I can and cannot do!
Shalya was however devastatingly efficient. He kept his tirade against Karna and continued to praise Arjuna. Karna turned to him with barely contained fury.'I can see Yudhishtara there! Take me there!'
Shalya realized that it was direct order and drove the horses to Yudhishtara. Karna challenged Yudhishtara to a duel and when the fight actually started, Karna literally toyed with Yudhishtara. He hurt Yudhishtara so badly that Yudhishtara had to retire to his camp immediately. As Yudhishtara was being driven off Karna yelled loudly. 'You are not worthy of fighting me! Someday, tell your children that you fought with Karna and lost!' 
Arjuna and Krishna heard about the fight between Yudhishtara and Karna and rushed back to the camp to meet Yudhishtara.
Yudhishtara had long since nursed a fear of Karna. He could not explain it, not even to himself, but Yudhishtara always felt that Karna could singlehandedly turn around the war....And today's duel with Karna had definitely not improved things. Yudhishtara sat in his tent nursing his wounds wondering how it was possible to bring Karna down. He heard Arjuna's chariot and nursed a silly notion that Arjuna had already defeated Karna. He rushed outside. 'Arjuna! You have done it! You have defeated Karna, have you not?'
Arjuna looked surprised. 'No! I thought that....I heard that you were wounded I came to see you!'
'What for? What do you want to see me for?' Yudhishtara sneered angrily. 'You want to see exactly how badly Karna has hurt me?' Anger made Yudhishtara very reckless. 'I seriously do not think you are a match for Karna. Karna with his Vijaya (Karna's bow is called Vijaya) is more powerful than you with your Gandiva! What is the use of having the Gandiva, if you cannot even use it properly....'
That was just as far as he got. Arjuna pulled out his sword and pulled it straight at Yudhishtara's throat. Yudhishtara stared at the sword wide-eyed, unable to even understand.
'I have a vow that I will kill anyone who insults my Gandiva! Today you have just insulted my Gandiva....' Arjuna said with an almost detached tone pushing the sword further.
Things would have gone really bad, if not for Krishna. Krishna effectively calmed down both the brothers and made the two of them apologize to each other.
Krishna and Arjuna went outside the tent. 'Krishna, please take me to Karna!'

Elsewhere in the field Karna challenged Bhima to a fight and Bhima fought brilliantly and disarmed Karna. In fact Bhima became so caught up in firing the arrow that one of is arrows struck Karna straight in the chest. Karna fell unconscious. Wanting to protect Karna, Salya drove Karna away from the battlefield to protect the unconscious Karna.
Bhima tried chasing Karna but was suddenly intercepted by Dusshasana. Remembering his promise at the dice game, Bhima challenged Dusshansana to the duel and the two of them were engaged in fighting with the mace. Unfortunately for Dusshasana, he had met Bhima when Bhima was very angry. Bhima practically went berserk and killed Dusshasana. Bhima then drank Dusshasana's blood exactly as he had promised Draupadi that he would.....
Karna left Bhima to his devices and went towards the Panchalas army and there he struck....and he started his attack with a clinical efficiency and the Pandava army started running away when they even heard the chariot sounds of Karna....
Before the battle between Karna and Arjuna started, another small thing also happened. Shalya watched Karna fight and his grudging respect for Karna grew. Shalya was about to say something when Karna shook his head. 'I know what you are trying to do! I should have guessed it before, but I had to choose only you as my charioteer because I know of no one else who can drive the chariot as well as you! I know I am going to die today....Please just keep quiet and let me fight!'
Shalya for a minute was tongue tied. Though he kept up his rant, Karna had already won him over....
On the way to battle Karna, Arjuna met another warrior who was waiting to fight with him. It was Vrishasena, Karna's son. Vrishasena fought brilliantly and he pierced Arjuna's left hand with many arrows. Even Krishna was not spared. Recovering, Arjuna pulled out an arrow and  Karna watched as Arjuna hit Vrishasena repeatedly with his powerful arrows and Vrishasena fell dead. 

Screaming Karna came forward and attacked Arjuna. It is said that even the Gods and the rishis from the heavens came down to watch the battle.
The two of them fought with ordinary weapons at first and the air was thick with arrows that almost nothing was visible from the two sides. Karna fired his arrows with such devastating efficiency that even Krishna was not fast enough to move the chariot....A few arrows pierced Krishna.
Then the two warriors started using celestial weapons each as powerful as the other. 
Ashwattama saw the battle and hurriedly turned to Duryodhana. 'In all my years, I have never seen anything like this Duryodhana, I am afraid, the two of them would end the world...Please call off the battle.....Make peace with the Pandavas!'
Duryodhana watched the scene with quiet pride in his eyes and shook his head. 'Karna will win! My Karna will win!'
As the two of them fought, Shalya's respect for Karna grew to immense proportions. 'I am sorry!' Shalya said quietly. 
Karna smiled. 'I will try to kill Arjuna, but my friend, if I fail what would you do?'
'I will find Dhananjay (Arjuna) and Krishna and I will kill them!' Shalya said with utter sincerity in his voice. 
'Please....please do that! My Duryodhana needs someone to fight for him, after I am gone!' Karna said smiling beautifully.

However the fight between Arjuna and Karna was interrupted in the general hubhub of the war. It happened such that Karna was wanted in another part of the battlefield and Arjuna found himself face to face with another son of Karna - Vikartana. However this battle though fierce lasted for a very short time as Vikartana was also killed by Arjuna.

Now looking mad through and through, Karna met Arjuna again in the battlefield and this time both of them knew that this was for the last time....There could be only one person who walked away from this battle....

Karna fired the arrows so fast that one could hardly see Karna pick up the arrow and fire it. It all seemed to blur into one single action. However what was even more surprising was that all the arrows which were fired were cut off by Arjuna with the same speed. The air surrounding the place where the two arrows met became dark and almost nothing was visible to either side...

Karna used his Varunastra and fired it at Arjuna. Both Arjuna and Krishna were drenched in the sudden rain from the astra. However Arjuna immediately fired a Vayavastra and dispelled the showers which disappeared almost as soon as they had appeared. However Arjuna did not pause even for a single second. He kept firing his arrows and within a matter of a few seconds, the nalikas and the anjalikas (the names of the weapons used by Arjuna) pierced almost the entire upper half of Karna. Ignoring the pain, Karna closed his eyes and pulled out the Bhargava astra. It is said that the Bhargava astra was handed over to Karna by his teacher Parashurama. Firing the arrows rapidly one after the other Karna destroyed the arrow which Arjuna was about to fire. Krishna rapidly moved away from the other arrows and the other arrows went and hit the Pandava army which was standing there. The soldiers, the elephants and the horses which were standing there.....none of them survived the attack.....

Bhima was shocked watching his brother getting hurt by Karna and could not bear it. 'How is it even possible that the son of a charioteer is better than you? This cannot be allowed! Fight brother, fight and do anything....but kill him!'
Incensed by his brother, Arjuna fought like never before. Now not only was Karna getting hit by the arrows, the entire Kaurava army was being decimated by Arjuna. Karna realizing that Arjuna had raised the level of the game and that he had to do something to keep up the morale of his men ordered Shalya to go right in front of Arjuna so that he would be able to prevent further damage to his army.
Both the warriors fired celestial weapons at will. Karna pulled out his Nagastra and aimed it straight at Arjuna's head was about to fire it when he was interrupted by Shalya. 'Karna! Do not aim for the head....Aim for the chest!' Shalya shouted.
In the heat of the battle, Karna unfortunately did not heed Shalya's warning....or probably he thought that Shalya was still trying to distract him by degrading him and fired the nagastra straight at Arjuna's head. Arjuna was not quick enough and could not defend against it. Krishna saw the astra coming as if in slow motion and right at the last minute when the weapon was almost among them, he pushed the chariot down and so....the weapon which came for the head went with the crown....
'Use the weapon again!' A voice came to Karna. Karna saw astonished as the astra looked at him in the shape of a snake. 'This Arjuna has killed my family in the Khandava forest...Use me again and this time I shall kill Arjuna!'
Karna looked angrily at the astra. 'The only person I trust is myself....I do not trust anyone else to fight for me! Go away!'
The astra itself shot straight at Arjuna, however Arjuna brought it down without any hesitation.
The fight between Arjuna and Karna was getting ugly as the two warriors were beginning to hurt each other with the powerful arrows. Their armours no longer afforded the protection that it was supposed to give the warriors and the two warriors were bleeding profusely....
Karna pulled out his Brahmaastra and closed his eyes to read out the mantra and to his horror, he found that he could not remember anything. He tried again and again, but still nothing came to his mind. He was about to let out another weapon when suddenly Karna's chariot shuddered. Karna saw in utter horror as the chariot slowly sank in the soft mud beneath it.
Cursing himself Karna knew that his movements would now become sluggish because of the soft mud under the chariot. Karna started firing arrows one after the other and it is said that he cut the string of Arjuna's bow eleven times and Arjuna retied the string all the eleven times and he did it with such a speed that even Karna could not identify when Arjuna retied the string....
However now the chariot was sinking even deeper inside the mud and the chariot had completely stopped. Karna jumped out of the chariot and tried to pull it. Arjuna was about to aim the arrow at him but then he hesitated. Arjuna was too much of a warrior to hurt a man when he was not fighting......Karna looked at Arjuna with pleading eyes. 'Please give me some time! I am not fit to fight right now! You are a virtuous man! You will attack a man like this'
Krishna however laughed. 'Did Abhimanyu not deserve a little more kindness from you when he was all alone in the Chakravyugha?' Krishna was almost blazing with anger. 'He was sixteen! Did you not think that Drauapdi was helpless in the dice game? Still that did not prevent you from speaking harsh words to her! Why should Arjuna hesitate to kill you now?'
Karna looked wordlessly at Krishna because he knew that there was no excuse for what he had done back then. 
On hearing Abhimanyu's name, Arjuna's lips hardened into a grim line. He pulled back his Anjalika astra and sent it straight at Karna's head. As usual there was no mistake in his aim......The astra beheaded Karna.....


  1. Thank you so much for posting this.

  2. thank you for completing a story of legend

  3. Thank you for writing all these wonderful stories please write more.

  4. Great Krana tears came out automatically while i am reading this

  5. we all know what happens, we all have read it many times, and yet we shed tears every time we read these same words. i dont experience this in any other parts of life/reading anywhere

  6. pl write what actually happened next....thanx

  7. A heart rendering story indeed. And your way of narration is impeccable.

  8. Excellent part, especially the narration of the war between 2 legendary warriors was awesome.

  9. To add some more information to this facts. At the time of encounter fight with Bheema Karna was wounded and within no time karna recovered and fought with Bheema with mace and defeated bheema wounding him on chest and shoulder.. Also told Bheema "Go and Have with good food and live up" , After some time in a Direct war with Arjuna karna's chariot drowned into earth and made him fall from chariot and Shalya ran away from there, Karna had still the arm power to fight from ground level but he remembered the vow he given to Kunti that all his brothers would be alive , Also told Arjuna that at the time of chakravyuha his job was only to shatter the Bow and arrows of Abhimanyu and he did not kill Abhimanyu. Karna's Guru Parashurama have given a Bow as gift Boon to karna by Name "VIJAYA" as long as that is there in hands of karna no one can defeat him, even that was also stolen by Krishna. At final stage karna could fight being on ground but did not take the bow into hands and welcomed death in front of krishna remembering the word given to Kunti and Arjuna used Narayanaastra which shattered the Heart of Karna. One important point here is When Lord Krishna have taken the Powerful bow "VIJAYA" from karna he gave a boon in return that he is going to perform all the post death rituals of karna. IT IS THE GREATEST AND VERY AUSPECIOUS THING HAPPENED IN MAHABHARATH THAT KARNA WAS THE ONLY PERSON TO GET RITUALS DONE BY VASUDEVA ON THE BANKS OF RIVER GANGA WHICH IS NOW KNOWN AS KARNA PRAYAG.